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The Landmark Xenophon's Hellenika (Landmark Series) Paperback – Illustrated, December 7, 2010
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Hellenika covers the years between 411 and 362 B.C.E., a particularly dramatic period during which the alliances among Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and Persia were in constant flux. Together with the volumes of Herodotus and Thucydides, it completes an ancient narrative of the military and political history of classical Greece.
Xenophon was an Athenian who participated in the expedition of Cyrus the Younger against Cyrus’ brother, the Perisan King Artaxerces II. Later Xenophon joined the Spartan army and hence was exiled from Athens. In addition to the Hellenika, a number of his essays have survived, including one on his memories of his teacher, Socrates.
Beautifully illustrated, heavily annotated, and filled with detailed, clear maps, this edition gives us a new, authoritative, and completely accessible translation by John Marincola, an comprehensive introduction by David Thomas, sixteen appendices written by leading classics scholars, and an extensive timeline/chronology to clarify this otherwise confusing period. Unlike any other edition of the Hellenika, it also includes the relevant texts of Diodorus Siculus and the Oxyrhynchus Historian, with explanatory footnotes and a table that correlates passages of the three works, which is perhaps crucial to an assessment of Xenophon’s reliability and quality as a historian.
Like the two Landmark editions that precede it, The Landmark Xenophon’s Hellenika is the most readable and comprehensive edition available of an essential history.
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“Lavish. . . . Outstanding. . . . There is nothing else like [it].”—The New York Review of Books
“Beautifully produced. . . . [A] veritable treasure trove. . . . Constitute[s] a first-rate education in classical history.”—The New Criterion
“Robert Strassler has delivered again. . . . This is an excellent addition to the Landmark series.”—Sacramento Book Review
About the Author
JOHN MARINCOLA is the Leon Golden Professor of Classics at Florida State University. He is the author and editor of many books about Greek and Roman historiography and has translated a number of classical texts. He lives in Florida.
- Publisher : Anchor; Illustrated edition (December 7, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 672 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1400034760
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400034765
- Item Weight : 2.39 pounds
- Dimensions : 7.31 x 1.34 x 9.19 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #84,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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If you want to go a bit deeper into this history, I recommed Simon Hornblower'sThe Greek World 479-323 Hornblower ties the facts together that get lost in the details: the causes, reasons and conclusions to be drawn from the facts presented in the ancient sources. The book is dense reading on its own but enormously helpful read in tandem with the the Landmark edition.
Despite everything bad written regarding the quality of Xenophon's text, it is still the most important primary source covering this period. We are frequently reminded of multiple omissions and inconsistencies. Strassler studiously compares the Hellenica with another existent text covering the same period by Diodorus Siculus and other sources to prove this point, but the Hellenica is still extremely impressive because it is a contemporaneous account written by a man who not only had high-level access to information but also played a large role himself.
For the more advanced reader, the referenced sections of Diodorus' text are provided at the end of the book. Some sections of Diodorus give more information on the topic at hand. Other sections give diverging information. Sometime Strassler sides with Xenophon's account. Other times, not. Additionally, sections of a fragmentary, more recently discovered third text on this period called the Oxyrhynicha papyrus fragments are also included at the end of the text and referenced from within the main text.
The text itself is plodding in some sections, though in others it moves along. Conveniently, every several paragraphs there is a 2 or 3 sentence summary in the outer margin of each page, making it easy to catch up on your train of thought each time you pick up the book again. The small summaries also make it easy to make sure you understand each paragraph or haven't missed something important in a difficult to understand section. Further, the summaries provide an easy way to skim through or easily reference the text.
Not being a scholar or expert in the material, it was more difficult for me personally to be dismayed by inaccuracies and omissions. There is no need to get hung up on this point because Strassler does a good job pointing them out and filling in the holes. There is still a lot to glean from the text, especially how the different city-states of ancient Greece were run, the complex politics, and the extreme amount of infighting that occurred among the Greeks after the Peloponnesian War.
You gain a much greater understanding that the Greek world went well beyond Athens and Sparta and Corinth and Thebes. The ancient Greek world comprised of many, many established city-states that don't get much recognition today that held sway back then. The sections on the fighting in the Ionic city-states and the involvement of Persia was also interesting.
Lastly, the translation is new and very readable. No antiquated text or other worries in this respect.
PS Next up for the Landmark series is Arrian and then Polybius.
Hellenika picks up where Thucydides' book leaves off and covers the final years of the Peloponneseian War. It then narrates the next 40 years of Greek history, when Sparta is the dominant city and tries to expand it's power, only to be thwarted by the up and coming city of Thebes. This period is fraught with wars, alliances, and relations with the Persian empire. Xenophon himself served in a few of the campaigns and was a close friend of the Spartan king Agesilaus, who reigned for most of the period. It's a pro-Sparta book, so you get the impression that the other cities were all ruining a good thing. But this Landmark is unique in that it provides excerpts from two other sources, which give an objective narrative of the same events. These 3 combined sources are all we have on the period, so this Landmark edition is pretty much the definitive source.
The Landmark series is known for it's excellent maps and footnotes, and this book is no different. The appendices can stand alone as their own book. Scattered throughout the book are pictures of artifacts, ruins, and even ancient battlefields. The introduction is also valuable for explaining just who Xenophon was and what he was trying to achieve with this work.
Top reviews from other countries
Xenophon's Hellenika is the primary source for the period between 411 and 362BC ie. the end of and aftermath of the Peloponnesian War. It therefore effectively completes the story started by Thucydides. In this edition are also to be found relevant texts from the other major sources of the period: Diodorus Siculus and the Oxyrhynchus historian; enabling a side by side comparison with the Xenophon text.
All in all a terrific book - ideal for people coming to the subject with little knowledge, but with masses of information to tempt the well informed also!
In fact, the inclusion of rival histories of the period that Xenophon narrates, discreetly turns the reader into a budding amateur historian -- you will find yourself debating with Xenophon, Diodorus and the mysterious Oxyrhynchus historian. The Landmark's Landmark in my opinion (although the Landmark Arrian now beckons!).
It is hard to explain why other publishers produce such texts without maps or with inadequate maps.
En plus des 300 page consacrées aux « Helléniques », « The Landmark Xenophon » propose également autant de pages d’annexes avec des textes inédits d’universitaires anglais sur des thèmes variés ayant trait à la guerre de Péloponnèse, des biographies des personnages principaux, des commentaires sur l’art de la guerre ou la traductions des textes de Diodore de Sicile sur les mêmes événements que ceux relatés par Xénophon.
Comme sont prédécesseur dans la même collection, « The Landmark Xenophon » est conçu comme un véritable guide (malheureusement en anglais) dont la qualité première et de rendre compréhensible des événements lointains et complexe s’étant déroulé dans un monde qui nous paraît aujourd’hui culturellement très lointain.